Interacting with "Pyromaniacs"
This is Part One. Part Two is Here
I do not attend church. No church wants a person with my beliefs to attend.
On a blog called Pyromaniacs I read "Why you need to be in a church this Sunday." Here is my interaction with that post.
|"Everything old is new again," and the saying certainly holds true when it comes to heresy, false doctrine and plain old unbiblical nuttiness.||I agree.|
|For instance, back in the anti-establishment 60s and 70s, Christianoid kids would verbally trash the "organized church." Didn't need to go to a building, they'd say; they were the church. The real Bible scholars among them (relatively speaking) might yank 1 Corinthians 6:19 out of context and waterboard it a bit, until it said what they wanted to hear.||I agree.|
|But no, Trevor, you're not the church. You're part of the church. The word ἐκκλησία (ekklēsia) means "assembly," and no, you're really not an assembly. Doesn't matter how many chins you have, you still aren't an assembly.||I agree.|
|What you are (you tell me) is a Christian. If you're a Christian, you claim Jesus as your Lord.||I agree with this criticism of "Christianoid kidz." It may have been wrong of me to get my dander up at a post which wasn't really directed at people who are active in a community of believers which isn't called a "church," but still exhibits the marks of New Testament believers.
But I think I'm right: the author of this post is a fascist, and his argument in favor of ecclesiastical fascism is unBiblical.
|Where's your Lord today? He depicts Himself as walking among local assemblies (Revelation 1:12-13, 20), holding their pastors in His right hand (vv. 16, 20). What do you think the message is, there? Why is He not watching a lovely sunset, or fishing, or walking the dog, or riding a comet? Why among churches, among assemblies, cherishing their pastors?||The "Church at Ephesus" (Rev. 2:1) was not a mega-church in a single building. It consisted of numerous fellowships, most of which met in homes. To use verses from the Book of Revelation this way (in support of going to the building of a specific "church" somewhere in America) strikes me as the kind of "exegesis" Catholics in the Middle Ages might have employed.
I highlighted the word "not" in the original post at left. Where does the Bible say He is not in those places? Argument from silence.
|Because that's where Jesus is. That's where His great heart is. Do you know better than He? Which one of you is "Lord," again?||I certainly agree that most people should be a part of something, call it a church or whatever. When readers of my webpages threaten to leave their church, I exhort them to reconsider unless they have something better they're going toward.|
|That's the church, that local assembly of believers where pastors lead, the Word is preached, the ordinances are observed, and discipline is carried out. Christ loved it and gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5:25). He died for it.||This kind of rhetoric is often designed to quash thinking and impose zombie-like obedience. Noble Christians, like the Bereans, think. They are more characterized by dialogue than monologue. But they listen attentively to the monologue of maturity and wisdom, and submit to the Word of God speaking through them.|
|But you won't walk into one of them, and stay there? Which one of you is "Lord," again?||Any church I walk into will ask me to leave. All organized churches are uncomfortable with someone of my beliefs being present in their church-- and potentially disrupting the unity of their thinking.|
|Before He died, Jesus prayed for the church, all of it (John 17). Even (especially!) with what He was facing, the church was on His heart.|
|But you won't attach yourself to one, to join it and work in it and pray for it? Which one of you is "Lord," again?|
|Who is your pastor? Are you fool enough to say "Jesus is my pastor"? Nonsense. When He ascended, He gave pastors to the church (Ephesians 4:11). If He gave them, then He isn't them. Which one is your pastor, your toe-to-toe, eyeball-to-eyeball pastor?||Who wants to be my "pastor?" Nobody I know. Nobody I know who calls himself a "pastor" wants to go "toe-to-toe, eyeball-to-eyeball" with me.|
|Your "Lord" charged pastors with the care of souls. That means Jesus — your Lord, so you say — thinks your soul needs watching over (Hebrews 13:7, 17). Which individual flesh and bones living pastor is watching over your soul, in person, individually?||
Those who spoke unto me the Word of God, whose faith I follow, considering the goal of their life, do not claim to have "rule" over me in the sense that the blogger at left advocates.
Those (not the one) who watch my soul do not make the same claims about their authority as Roman Catholic priests do. Does that invalidate their care, or my submission to them (Ephesians 5:21; 1 Peter 5:5)?
|If "none," how is it that you decided you are smarter than Jesus? You know, Jesus. Your "Lord." Which one of you is "Lord," again?||I have no objection to adding additional shepherds to my life. Those who administer brick-and-mortar "churches" don't want that role.|
|Jesus, your Lord, also called you to know, show respect for, esteem highly in love, and submit to the leadership of your flesh-and-blood in-person pastor (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:17). Which pastor is it that sees you come regularly to be discipled and led, and sees you loving and trusting God enough to yield him the love and submission to which God calls you?||There are many "churches" I can faithfully attend, Sunday after Sunday, and the "flesh-and-blood" pastor will never see me or know I'm even there.|
|If you bristle at the thought of embracing what Jesus calls you to — which one of you is "Lord," again?|
|And if you fall into unrepentant sin, which assembly will even know of it, let alone discipline you? Jesus says you need that, too (Matthew 18:13-20). I don't care what complex, high-sounding Dagwood sandwich of excuses you can slap together. If you say you don't need to be in a local assembly, you say you're smarter than Jesus, and are sufficient.||There are many "churches" I can faithfully attend, Sunday after Sunday, and the "flesh-and-blood" pastor will never know that I've fallen into unrepentant sin. Nobody else will know, either. Fortunately, I have people in my life -- outside the "local church" -- who would know if I've fallen into sin, and would follow Matthew 18 in an effort to restore me.
The issue here is community and relationships where restoration can take place, not in "ecclesiastical authority."
|And remember, that Jesus you say is your "Lord" said that the second most important thing in the world is to love your neighbor (Matthew 22:39). He moved Paul to tell you your fellow-church-member is your premier neighbor (Galatians 6:10). That's where you take all that rich doctrine (Ephesians 1—3), and live it out in community (Ephesians 4—6). That's where you do all those dozens of "one anothers."||"One anothers" can be done only in a brick-and-mortar "church?"|
|And if you tell yourself that your spouse or children are all the "one anothers" you need, God already said "No." If you insist, you put your judgment over God's.||Where did God "already" say that the church in one's house is not enough? (Acts 8:3; Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2)|
|Meaning that, whatever your mouth professes, your choices say you find God's judgment deficient, and yours superior.|
|Meaning you're a fool and a de facto blasphemer — whether you intend to be or not.|
|And you thereby bring harm on your spouse and children, by preaching and living a lie to them.|
|That's for starters.||There are so many different circumstances among Christians these days, and so many lifeless and worthless churches, that to issue these shotgun denunciations of people who are not affiliated with traditional "churches" is irresponsible.|
|So, Jesus — your "Lord" — says you need to be in a local church. You say you don't?|
|Which one to believe? You? Or Jesus? You? Or Jesus? Hmm.|
|Here's the problem, I think. I've said a word thirteen times: Lord. The confession of Jesus as Lord is fundamental to Christian faith (Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 12:3; Philippians 2:11). In repentant faith, we bow the knee to Christ's Lordship.||I agree.|
|I think the problem with a lot of these late-blooming hippies is, at root, authority. They don't like to have to sit still and listen while someone else talks. They don't like someone else being in charge. They don't like being encouraged to join, commit, join in, be with, commit themselves, be accountable, be answerable.||I think the desire to have people sit still and listen to you, hour after hour, is a spiritual problem. An authority problem in the other direction. I find no monologues in the New Testament. I find dialogues, conversation, community.
By the way, John McArthur quotes my article above a few times in various works of his.
|Our race was bitten with an anti-authority bug when great-grandma bought the "You shall be as gods" line, and great-granddad followed her lead. But conversion — real conversion — deals with that bug.||One of my favorite books on authority is Robert Nisbet, Twilight of Authority. That should tell you the kind of person I am with respect to authority.|
|It all really comes back to Jesus, the Lord. You may not like the idea of being accountable to a man, or a group of men. You'd rather sit home, watching TV or listening to tapes. Whenever you want, wherever you want. No yucky people to be patient with; don't have to listen to all their whiny problems and needs. No need to adjust to different accents, different ways of thinking, different cultures. Just you, you, you.||I love the idea of being accountable. I wish I had more of it.
I don't particularly like "yucky people," but I have made it a point to be around them. Like for example during a ten-year period in my life when I had more than 1,000 different people in my home, many of whom were Spanish-speaking illegal aliens, all of whom were homeless and relatively undisciplined. I consider this my "church."
|But Jesus — the Lord — commands you to go to church, join in church, participate in church, and submit to the God-ordained human leadership of the church.||Sounds nice in the abstract, but in reality, it doesn't hold up. Jesus does not command me to attend the First Baptist Church, or the Behemoth MegaChurch. Jesus does not command me to go to a church where I am not wanted.|
|That's your issue. Is Jesus your Lord in reality, or in theory alone? When convenient, or no? Are your ego and control-issues the boundary of His Lordship?|
|See you in church.|
|PS: and I think I can speak confidently for Phil and Frank in saying — God forbid that someone use our blog as a substitute for obeying Jesus and involving himself in the fellowship of a local church of Christ.|
Frank Turk responded:
My response was censored from the blog. I think that act completely proves my point. Here's what I said to Frank Turk, more or less:
|Rev. (?) Turk's response is an example of why so many people are turned off by hierarchical Christianity. There's no real community in this response. It's an impersonal bumper-sticker slogan followed by finger-wagging (in this generation) or thumb-screws (in a previous generation).
There's no interaction with my claim that no church wants me to attend their church. Everybody wants me to attend A church, maybe, just "not my church." Nobody who is an "archist" wants someone who doesn't believe in "archists" attending their "archy."
I'm told to "repent." Of what, exactly? Of what, specifically? I've spent a good deal of time reading the Bible; I'm sure I'm not being told to repent of that. I take Romans 13 seriously, as evidenced by my website on the subject:
Roman Catholics want everyone to be Roman Catholics, but did any Roman Catholic leader really want Martin Luther showing up at his church every Sunday? Nobody wants me in their church. But that's OK, because the feeling is mutual.
However, I enjoy Bible studies, hymn-sings, prayer meetings, covered-dish fellowships, concerts, and a whole range of other Christian activities with the same believers who do not want me messing up their churches. (especially during the "donut-hour," when discussions about anarchism can distract people from the official agenda.)
It's funny how you can have a good time with someone in a fishing boat on a lake on a nice summer day, but inside a "church" the person becomes a completely different person. He speaks differently from the pulpit than he does outside. I can have a conversation with a pastor about theology in a pizza parlor, and it will be friendly, and he will talk like an ordinary human being, but when he's got his robe on, he's a completely different person. He's no longer a human being. He treats people like abstractions, impersonally. He has no duty to understand or respect others. He makes authoritative pronouncements and edicts.
Two more responses to my post, one from the author of the original post:
I tried to "interact" with the author, and my interaction was censored. This is authoritarian hypocrisy. "Read it, interact with it, or pass by" really means "Read it, nod in docile agreement, or leave."
I think everyone who knew me at churches I've attended would say I have a nice, pleasant personality. In the last church I attended, I just wanted to sing in the choir. So that's all I did. For five years I sang every Sunday, and even won attendance awards. I was regularly invited to people's homes for fellowship, supper, and bluegrass playing. I never talked to anyone about Biblical stuff (Acts 17:11). Just music and recreation. Sure, I'm a propagandist and an agitator. But far from never changing the subject, I never brought it up. Not in church. Not in church-related meetings. Then the pastoral staff found out about my websites, where I never change the subject. They were most uncomfortable. Leaving was clearly the nicest thing I could do for them. I've never been contacted by them to get back to the choir (though members of the choir who didn't know about my meetings with the pastoral staff did). I'm sure the pastoral staff is relieved that I'm not there.
I posted a link to this "interaction" page. The post was deleted:
Am I not talking about the post?
Of course I am.
Are all of the other comments that have gone uncensored talking specifically and exclusively about the words of "THIS POST?"
Of course not.
Is he talking to me?
Of course not. He didn't need to post his "response" to me publicly. This is posturing in front of his readers.
This is ecclesiastical fascism.
This is exactly why I will not be in church on Sunday.
Response to Chad:
Vine & Fig Tree: A World Without Priests